Organic Cotton sector shows signs of stabilizing, demonstrating strength and commitment of Producer Groups, according to 2011-12 Textile Exchange Farm & Fiber Report
|O’Donnell, TX (PR Web) 22 May 2013
|Textile Exchange, a non-profit organization dedicated to accelerating sustainable practices in the textile industry, today released the 2011-12 Farm & Fiber Report. The overall findings demonstrate that organic cotton production dropped 8% from last year. This drop is much less dramatic than the staggering 37% drop in 2010-11. Half of the organic cotton-growing countries reported increased production.
The report, Textile Exchange’s seventh, provides unique data, trends and analysis of organic cotton production, as well as annual snapshots of other cotton sustainability initiatives in order to provide a broad perspective on cotton agriculture. The report highlights important calls to action for brands and retailers – specifically, once they commit to utilizing more organic cotton, brands and retailers need to examine their sourcing models and work to build consumer awareness of the benefits of buying organic.
This year’s findings indicate that the organic cotton market is beginning to stabilize after a wild ride of extreme growth from 2006-2010 and a big drop in 2011. Another indication that the market is settling is that the total land area dedicated to organic cotton has remained fairly stable with only a 2.4% decrease from last year. This could, in part, be attributed to an increased effort by brands to study their supply chains and seek out the most updated and vetted sourcing data. Organizations downloaded the Farm & Fiber Report immediately after it was posted and more than 60% of these organizations reported plans to increase their use of organic cotton in the coming two to three years, further supporting the stabilization theme.
While overall market numbers are not dramatic, some countries showed interesting growth and change patterns. For example, the report shows huge production increases in Tanzania (153% growth) and Nicaragua (190% growth). Overall, Africa saw 103% growth from last year. It is no surprise that India is the world’s biggest producer again this year, now five years straight. In fact, 74% of the world’s organic cotton comes from India. Half of the countries producing organic cotton saw an increase, including Turkey which ranks second.
Civil Unrest and Drought Affect Volumes
Syria, the country reported as the second biggest producer last year, is out of the numbers mix as civil unrest meant that production estimates were not available and there is currently no fiber for export. This situation also makes future forecasting difficult because no one knows when the situation in Syria may change or improve.
Another country facing difficult issues is the United States, due to drought. 90% of US-grown organic cotton comes from the state of Texas, which saw devastating drought in the last year, hurting all US cotton growers. Droughts in Latin America (Paraguay and Brazil) were also damaging to production.
“The overall numbers we’re releasing for the Farm & Fiber Report can be viewed with hope,” said Liesl Truscott, Farm Engagement Director for Textile Exchange. “Over the last year, Textile Exchange has been successful in bringing organizations together with a focus on finding solutions and creating opportunities for the organic cotton industry. We have made a lot of progress in raising awareness, particularly through the efforts of the Organic Cotton Round Table. This will propel us forward in the coming year. After the dramatic declines reported last year, we are continuing our active collaboration with the industry to support this ongoing progress.”
“Looking ahead, we are hopeful that organic cotton production will remain fairly stable,” said Truscott. “The situation in India is still fragile – access to good quality non-GMO seed is critical and better investment models are needed. We also cannot predict whether Syria will make a recovery next year and again export fiber. In addition, the uncertainty of rainfall at the right time in the US and Latin America will play a significant role in determining growth.”
In last year’s report, Textile Exchange encouraged organizations to come together to work toward solutions for farmers who faced difficulty in accessing good quality non-GMO seed and suffered from an uncertain market. In November 2012, Textile Exchange hosted the first Organic Cotton Round Table at their global conference in Hong Kong. 90 people representing farmers, manufacturers, brands, retailers and support organizations attended the inaugural event. This demonstrated a high level of interest in finding solutions. This group and its work continue today and the group will reconvene at the global conference in Turkey (November 2013) with an open invitation to the industry.
More action is needed to drive change and increase the amount of brands and retailers who connect from the farm to the final product. Textile Exchange encourages brands to rethink intimacy and commitment in their supply chains and seek assistance and support from the most reliable resources whenever needed. In the report, Textile Exchange emphasizes the role that organic agriculture plays as a “beacon” for the industry; enlightening the entire agricultural sector with techniques and technologies for working within natural ecosystems.
How to get the Farm & Fiber Report
The Farm & Fiber report has traditionally been offered free to Textile Exchange members and could be purchased by non-members for $400 but for the first time this year, the report will be free for everyone on the Textile Exchange website, www.textileexchange.org. “This information can be a catalyst and a sourcing tool for brands and retailers when they are making their organic cotton purchasing decisions,” said Truscott. “Textile Exchange wants this report to be free and widely available for all to encourage positive momentum.”
Farm and Fiber Report Webinar
Educational webinars (May 22 and 23) accompany the report release. The webinars are free and there is still space available for the May 23 event. Access webinar registration (free) at http://textileexchange.org/webinars/upcoming.
Textile Exchange Member Webinars
Textile Exchange member organizations are invited to participate in an interactive webinar about the Farm & Fiber report on June 5 and 6 in which the Farm Engagement team will answer members’ questions about organic and sustainable cotton initiatives. Members can contact Brittany Moore directly to sign up (Brittany@textileexchange.org).
About Textile Exchange
Textile Exchange is a global non-profit organization dedicated to accelerating sustainable practices in the textile industry. Incorporated in 2002, Textile Exchange envisions a textile industry that protects and restores the environment and enhances lives. Textile Exchange is headquartered in the USA (Texas) with staff in eight countries. The organization works to leverage the scale and influence of the textile industry to create significant and sustained change. Textile Exchange provides tools and training on the impacts and issues that most affect the positive future of the industry in order to effectively drive positive change. To learn more about Textile Exchange, visit the website: textileexchange.org